"I believe in a country where hard work and merit, not privilege or background, determines success."
Tony Blair 2005

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Flawed system?

From The NST
Shafie: We issued the certs
June Ramli and Nur Aqidah Azizi

The Higher Education Ministry today confirmed that it had issued Non-Objection Certificates (NOCs) to Arts stream students who failed their Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia examination.

Pos Malaysia Minister Datuk Shafie Salleh said the students were given the NOCs to enable them to gain entry into the Crimea University in Ukraine to realise their dreams of becoming doctors.

An NOC is a prerequisite for entry into any university abroad offering medical courses recognised by the Government.

"According to Higher Education Department director Professor Datuk Dr Hassan Said, whom I met this morning, these students were issued with NOCs although they failed their SPM," Shafie said.

"This was because they had additional certificates that carried more weight or were equivalent to the SPM," he said before chairing his post-Cabinet meeting at his ministry today.

He said the "additional certificates" were among those awarded to students who passed the SPM Mathematics and Bahasa Melayu papers in July after having failed in the subjects previously.

He said the issuing of NOCs in this manner was in accordance with ministry regulations.

"Although they had failed their SPM examinations, they could still gain entry into universities as their other qualifications showed they were qualified."

Shafie said the ministry would stop issuing NOCs for this particular university beginning Jan 1.

I find this news article very confusing. It involves Arts students being offered No Objection Certificates (NOCs) for furthering their studies in medicine in a now derecognised medical school. The Higher Education MInistry has obviously offered these letters despite knowing the proper qualifications needed to enter the medical field. A student in the Arts stream has certainly not studied the subjects necessary for qualification into medicine. If you notice, most medical schools look at subjects like Chemistry, Biology, Physics and Additional Mathematics as prerequisite subjects to pursue medicine. How can these certificates be issued when the involved students clearly were not qualified for medicine? What happened? Should someone look into the matter more intricately? Is this error repeated for other medical schools as well? Information can be scarce and the truth may never be known.

When love fails

Marriage, the penultimate journey displaying the love that binds two souls together. Not many can explain the nature of love and the chemistry that surrounds this wonderful feeling. Only experience can give one the best definition of love. It is a time when the heart speaks and the mind follows. It is a period when time stands still. Such love often culminates in a bond called marriage when two individuals commit to each other ... for life. However, is love and a marriage vow sufficient to keep two individuals for life?

Divorces are becoming more common and it saddens me to think that two individuals ,that were so deeply in love not too long ago, can be so bitterly spiteful that each is willing to let go of years of memories shared. Each justifying the move to break a vow that was made at the beginning of the journey. Future vows then become less tangible.

It has often been mentioned that marriage is a gamble. Perhaps it is like a box of chocolates and you can never tell what you are going to get inside. Or can it not be a gamble? Can it be more of an investment? Can it really be the discovery of a better half that has been the missing piece all this while?

Seeing loving elderly couples being together for decades creates a sense that a marriage can truly stand the test of time. It is when you can only see them as one is what defines marriage. They have withstood all trials and tribulations, surviving the tests that life throws in their path. Perhaps this is the greatest challenge of all, keeping a vow and defending the love that is often blurred with time.

Perhaps discovering true love is like finding a needle in a haystack. Or maybe love does fail and falter with the passing of time. One can only look to the heavens for guidance and hope that their hearts are leading them in the right direction.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Too much emphasis on examination performance?

From The NST,
'Give SPM top scorers automatic scholarship'
June 13:
All 200 high achievers in last year’s Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia examination should be awarded Public Service Department (PSD) scholarships, Opposition leader Lim Kit Siang said. cont...

Perhaps we have been putting too much emphasis on examination performance. Does doing well in an examination signify a good student? It may be time we recognise other talents and highlight them as well. Brilliance comes in all forms and it should never be measured with the performance in an examination alone.

Should all SPM top scorers be given automatic scholarships? Perhaps not. But there has to be clear justifcation and transparency as to why a student, despite inferior scores, is given a scholarship. I do not support this notion that all top scorers be given scholarships. There are definitely other important qualities that need due consideration and recognition.

Favouritism, cronyism and select priviledges based on ethnicity or religion should never be practised, if we are to seek academic excellence. Compromising standards is just to pull wool over one's eyes and will lead to the academic decadance.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Is criticising politicians a sin?

From The NST,
Shafie: Zohadie can remain VC
June Ramli
Prof Datuk Dr Muhamad Zohadie Bardaie will remain as Vice-Chancellor of Universiti Putra Malaysia even though he allegedly criticised the Minister of Higher Education Datuk Shafie Salleh in a poem recently.cont....

Free speech. A quality still lacking in Malaysian society. Radical and unpopular thoughts are often spat at. Critisicing politicians is also a forbidden sin. Such restrictions will only stunt the creativity of our academic institutions. All are expected to fall in line despite clearly flawed judgements from our top administrators. Authoritarian attitude is rampant and is clearly hampering the freedom to freely express oneself in Malaysia.

We need leaders who are confident in their field of expertise as well as in their own personalities. Attacks supposedly directed at them should be maturely dealt with. There should be no knee jerk response to remove anyone that disagrees with you.

Politicians are not royalty. They are elected representatives and should be open to critisicm no matter how painful they may sound. Often times, it is the truth that hurts the most.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

My quiet corner : Friendships

In an instance of insanity, friendships can be disrupted as abruptly as it started. There are times when borders are blurred and its definition distorted. Perhaps the strongest bonds are the ones formed during the most difficult of times, times when each of our trains appear to run on separate tracks. It is the ability to find a common stand in a sea of diversity is what defines true friendships. It is about holding on to the essence of a friendship despite apparently irremediable differences. Perhaps finding true friendships is not about discovering the perfect one but seeing an imperfect one perfectly.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Feeling on top of the world

From Yahoo,

Nepalese Climbers Wed Atop Mount Everest

By BINAJ GURUBACHARYA, Associated Press Writer Fri Jun 3, 9:34 AM ET

KATMANDU, Nepal - Two Nepalese climbers were on top of the world this week — not only because they reached the top of
Mount Everest but because they got married there in what was believed to be the first wedding on the summit.

It was a brief ceremony with no procession, champagne or band — only piles of snow and a breathtaking panorama for bride Moni Mulepati, 24, and groom Pem Dorjee, 23, as they exchanged their vows at 29,035 feet on Monday.

Literally feeling on top of the world. How poignant. Not many of us will have the courage to attempt such bizarre acts of love. Perhaps this epitomises true love. Forget about weddings at hotels or restaurants. They are getting boring and predictable, not to mention expensive!

Weddings are big business these days. Some opt for simplicity while others offer extravagant gestures. Whatever it is, I look at it as an expression of love that the couples share. It should not be another robotic chore that all newly weds have to endure. Expensive and grandious displays do not always signify love. It is an event meant to leave a lasting impression on both the bride and groom and not the invited guests. The guests are only there to witness the wonders of the unity that they are about to witness.

Perhaps it is the simple things in life that carry the greatest of meaning. Sometimes it takes both courage and humility to recognise these and treasure these important aspects of life.

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